11:FS Backs Off $50 Million Blockchain for Banking Fund

News • Business News • Banking

After more than a year of work, the 11:FS consultancy has scrapped an effort to raise a $50 million investment fund aimed at backing blockchain startups.

Announced in 2016 as a way to invest in founders looking to decentralize the way banks do business, the fund suffered from a lack of the “right combination of people” to execute the fundraising, said 11:FS co-founder Simon Taylor, speaking at the firm’s U.K. headquarters.

At the top of the list of difficulties was finding the right partner to warehouse the funds after they were raised.

Taylor said the company – which has a highly regarded team of co-founders including Taylor (the former vice president of entrepreneurial partnerships at Barclays), and executives David Brear (ex-Gartner) and Jason Bates (formerly with Starling Bank) – had “zero difficulty” raising the funds and would have closed the round if not for the warehousing difficulty.

Taylor positioned the decision as part of a larger pivot that finds the firm becoming a more traditional consultancy with a startup philosophy, telling CoinDesk:

“The reality is, that fund has been mothballed. We loved the idea, we’re committed to the idea, but sometimes you’ve got to pivot, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

Taylor said that 11:FS walked away from an initial $5 million committed by Life.Sreda Venture Capital, effectively ending what would have been the fund’s first partnership.

In spite of the change in plans, Taylor painted a picture of a young consultancy gaining traction among clients including banks, startups and financial infrastructure providers.

11:FS has grown from about 25 staff in April – at around the same time the blockchain fund was killed – to about 60 employees today, he said. In August, the former director of NTT Data Consulting’s fintech practice, Sam Maule, came onboard as a managing partner and head of the startup’s planned expansion into North America.

According to Taylor, 11:FS has expanded by generating revenue from its existing clients, although the firm is not sharing its revenue numbers.

At the core of the revamped company remains a focus on providing industry stakeholders consultation from those who have actually built competitive products. The group is also focusing on it media platform and research services.

“We see ourselves as the challenger consultancy,” said Taylor, adding:

“We think that unless you change where your thinking comes from, the same-old thinking, equals the same-old vendors, equals the same-old outcomes.”

11:FS office image via Michael Del Castillo for CoinDesk

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